The enzyme is not the biomarker. The biomarker is the product (metabolite) of the enzymatic reaction. An over-expressed enzyme related to cancer will produce many thousands of times more metabolite, thereby exponentially increasing the signal-to-background-noise ratio. The result is an amplified biomarker that acts like beacon for early detection that no traditional biomarker can match.
BioMark has identified one such enzyme that is over-expressed in most types of cancer cells, therefore giving them the ability to detect many tumors. This enzyme is called spermidine/spermine acetyltransferase (SSAT) and it converts an FDA-approved drug called amantadine into an acetylated form called N-acetylamantadine. N-acetylamantadine is produced in high amounts in cancer cells and is easily detected in urine in a cost-effective manner.
Most non-imaging cancer detection assays available today are validated to detect biomarkers that are over-expressed in cancer cells. A majority of these biomarkers are proteins that have become mutated in cell-signaling pathways or highly expressed on the surface of cancer cells. This approach is powerful, but has its limitations when it comes to detecting cancer at the early stages.
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BioMark’s assay can become the front line in cancer detection. During physical examinations, a patient will take a FDA Approved and safe pill (amantadine) that acts as a smart drug, and after 2-4 hours, submits a urine sample for analysis. If the levels of N-acetylamantadine in the urine are elevated above normal levels, traditional methods are then incorporated to specify the location of the cancer. This approach will save the medical system billions of dollars annually and prevent unnecessary harm to patients caused by otherwise invasive procedures.
BioMark Diagnostics has developed new high powered metabolic signatures to increase tumour specificity for lung with Dr. Wishart’s TMIC group at University of Alberta. The TMIC group along with BioMark are conducting a large retrospective lung cancer study using its customized assay.
BioMark Diagnostics is currently performing the following studies in the detection and risk assessment of patients with lung cancer:
We strongly believe BioMark’s technology can be disruptive to the diagnostics industry and potentially become an integral frontline defense in early cancer detection, measuring response to treatment and monitoring for early recurrence.